Introduction: A Blowout Semi-RTW Honeymoon

This is the beginning of one of the trips that I have wanted to take since I first found the world of points and miles. We’re embarking on a two week long, global honeymoon! The minute we got engaged, Mrs. ATXJetsetter started planning the wedding and I got to work on the honeymoon. The planning for this trip started with some very simple, open ended, criteria. All my fiancé wanted was an overwater villa in Thailand. After some quick research, I did not love any of the overwater options I could find in Thailand and, back in August of 2021, Covid shutdowns were still a very real possibility, so I wanted to avoid connecting/traveling to Asia.

Flowers in Santorini

After some additional research we settled on the Maldives as they had a large number of properties available that fit the bill. From there, we knew we wanted to make a stop in Europe on our way back to the States. Initially we planned to go to Amsterdam and make our way through the countryside to Brussels as our trip coincided with the end of the Dutch tulip season. Ultimately, we decided to skip Belgium and instead headed for Greece after our time in Amsterdam before returning to the US.

Booking Flights

The first thing I booked for the trip was our flight to the Maldives. Since it was by far our longest trip and most remote location, I wanted to get it locked in early. In September of 2021 I managed to find two seats on Qatar Airways from Houston to Male with layovers in Doha and Colombo for 70k AAdvantage miles per person. Since we both had our own stash of miles from years in consulting, Mrs. ATX Jetsetter and I booked on separate PNR’s and her CMB-MLE segment booked into economy while mine booked into J. Fortunately, a quick call to American Airlines fixed that problem and they moved her up to J and ensured that our marriage would at least last until we got to our destination. They were also able to link our PNR’s which made any future changes much easier.

Qatar Airways QSuites IFE

At the time I booked Houston was the closest I could get to Dallas for our dates with two J seats, but I was holding out hope that space would open from DFW. I continuously checked for award availability for two out of DFW, but it never materialized. However, I did manage to find space on one of the QR DOH-MLE direct flights allowing me to cut off the additional layover in Colombo.

QR operates four daily flights between Doha and Male with three on the 77W and one on an A320. Unfortunately, the only flight with space was the one operated by the A320. A quick call to an AAgent and they were able to confirm the change instantly.

With our flight to the Maldives nailed down, next we had to get out of the Maldives. At the time of booking, I was looking for space almost anywhere in Europe and came across availability on the dates we needed from Male to Amsterdam with a stop in Abu Dhabi on Etihad. I used 100k Aeroplan miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards for this booking (50k miles each). We also got lucky as our MLE-AUH flight was upgraded from an A320 to a B787-9 a few months after booking.

Etihad B787-9 Business Class

Finally, to get home from Europe, I was able to find J availability for two for 110k Flying Blue miles transferred from American Express Membership rewards with a 20{100e9eccce529b6370ee93f6ff0a7ac21fe3a00fd7b7ecb4736c276a58d60907} transfer bonus from Athens to Austin on KLM. A few months after booking I got an email saying our flight from Amsterdam to Austin had been upgraded from an A330 with the 2-2-2 seating in J to a 787 with 1-2-1 seats. Once I realized that we weren’t going to be in Austin by the time the honeymoon rolled around, I called Flying Blue and found space ATH-CDG-DFW in J for our return flight.

With our long haul flights booked, I waited a few months before the trip to book our positioning flights. First, to get to Houston, I took advantage of a two for one sale on United on their 737 MAX8. We needed to get to Greece and Aegean had a decently priced and well timed option to Santorini via Athens. Finally, we ended up booking a cheap ticket with Sky Express in economy on the ATR-72 to get back to Athens for the flight home.

Aegean A320 Santorini International Airport

Booking Hotels

In the Maldives, we took advantage of the ‘legacy’ Marriott Bonvoy award chart and booked three nights in an overwater villa at the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort. While I had plenty of SNA’s and I felt relatively confident that we would get an upgrade to an overwater villa, I did not want to roll the dice as it was the boss’s only request. I still applied for SNA’s hoping to score an upgrade to a villa with a plunge pool or the massive Westin Heavenly Villa.

Though we paid with points, the taxes and fees were quite steep as there was a $500 per person seaplane transfer as well as the local taxes and fees which is something to consider when planning a trip here on points or with cash. The flights to/from the hotel to Male were coordinated by the hotel through Trans Maldivian Airways and they reached out to us to coordinate everything roughly a month in advance.

Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort Baa Atoll

Since Amsterdam was our only major city on the trip, we wanted to stay close to the action. We elected to use our hotel credit that we earned through the AmEx Platinum and booked our stay through Fine Hotels and Resorts on the American Express site. We settled on the Kimpton De Witt given its convenient location and given our limited time in the city, convenience won out over brand loyalty to Marriott/Hilton properties.

In Santorini, we paid cash and booked a room at Oia Mare Villas overlooking the water with transfers included to/from Santorini Airport.

Lastly, we paid cash for our one night in Athens at the Moxy. We were only planning to be in the city for a few hours and needed a quick place to sleep that was close enough for us to see the sights in a relatively short time.

In this Trip Report

Hope you all enjoy following along!

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